We will welcome Emily Ann Seawell into the household of God this Sunday in the sacrament of baptism. At the font, she will be “born from above,” by “water and the Holy Spirit,” as Jesus explains to Nicodemus in our gospel lesson from John 3. Water sanctified by the Holy Spirit will be poured on her “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” and with oil of chrism she will be “sealed by the Holy Spirit […] and marked as Christ’s own forever.” With these signs and words, we attempt to evoke the unseen and mysterious “adoption” that we all have received as children of God, the heirs of the promises God made to Abraham so long ago. In the sacred moments of the sacrament we are united to Christ in his baptism, his death, and his resurrection. Like Nicodemus listening to Jesus in the darkness illumined by the lamp of his understanding, we struggle to understand this mysterious unity, and our limited capacities fail us. Ultimately, we rely on the grace Jesus expresses in John 3:16-17: God loved the world so much that he sent his Son to us, not to condemn us for our failings and shortcomings and sin, but to save us by his mercy and grace.
I hope that you will be present on Sunday to join in our prayers for Emily, to renew the promises of your Baptismal Covenant with her, and to welcome her into the household of God and the Christ Church Cathedral family. There could be no better, more joyful or hopeful way to begin your week—and the rest of your life.